Clever Creatures: 'Wise from Receiving Wisdom' | The Institute for Creation Research

Clever Creatures: 'Wise from Receiving Wisdom'

Animals fascinate children. They should amaze adults, too, yet often we are too busy to take time to ponder and appreciate the God-given traits of the creatures who share our world.

Why should animals capture our attention? They are alive! Unlike plants, which are like biological machines (having no self-consciousness),1 higher-order animals like mammals and birds are truly alive, often displaying what might be called personalities. Although qualitatively distinct from humans—who are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)—animals have what Scripture calls a “soul” (Hebrew nephesh).2

This soul is something more than the animal’s physical body. A dog’s soul departs at death, yet its physical body remains. Thus, there is a difference between a dog’s immaterial life and its material body, just as we humans have physical bodies distinct from our immaterial selves. The animal’s soul is revealed by how he or she intelligently thinks, communicates, learns, and makes decisions—including problem-solving choices.

Although many animal behaviors exhibit preprogrammed responses to outside world conditions, not all animal behavior is instinctive. Some animal behaviors reveal that God chose to give them cleverness—abilities to learn new ideas, to fit new situations, and to solve practical problems of daily living.

As [Benjamin] Beck tells us in his book Animal Tool Behavior, [a crow] was fed partly on dried mash, which its keepers were supposed to moisten. But sometimes (being merely human) they forgot. The crow, undaunted, would then pick up a small plastic cup that had been provided as a toy, dip it into a water trough, carry the filled cup across the room to the food, and empty the water onto the mash. “If the water was spilled accidently,” Beck writes, “the crow would return to the trough for a refill rather than proceed to the food pan with an empty cup.” The bird was not taught to do this. “The [problem-solving] behavior appeared spontaneously,” Beck reports.3

Many other examples of problem solving by resourceful animals could be given. Domesticated livestock, family pets, wildlife, and laboratory-tested animals come up with clever solutions to the challenges of daily living to secure food, water, air, shelter, rest, information, and reproductive success.3-5

But the resourcefulness of animals should not surprise us. Proverbs informs us that God wisely installed wisdom into animals—even small creatures like ants, conies, locusts, and lizards.6

Literally, these animals are “wise from receiving [God’s] wisdom.”7 Fascinating!

References

  1. For more information about the nature of plants, see Morris III, H. M. 2012. It’s Alive! Acts & Facts. 41 (8): 4-5.
  2. Regarding animals having nephesh-characterized life, see Genesis 1:20-21, 24; 2:19; 9:10, 12, 15-16; Leviticus 11:46. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2013. “New from Nothing”: Is God Still Creating Today? Acts & Facts. 42 (5): 10-11. See also Joubert, C. 2011. What Makes Us Human, and Why It Is Not the Brain: A Creationist Defense of the Soul. Answers Research Journal. 4: 217-232.
  3. Savage, C. 1997. Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 2-4. See PLOS Media’s “Causal understanding of water displacement by a crow,” posted on youtube.com. See also Burke, M. 2016. Only clever observers realize just how intelligent fish crows are. Chesapeake Bay Journal. 26 (8): 39.
  4. Even parrots can appreciate the cause-and-effect thinking needed “to understand and solve a novel situation.” See Bates, M. Problem-solving parrots understand cause and effect. Wired. Posted on wired.com October 17, 2013.
  5. Humble frillfin goby fish demonstrate amazing problem-solving abilities, as do tool-using dolphins, elephants, birds, tuskfish, and other resourceful animals. See Tomkins, J. P. 2016. Fish as Smart as Apes? Acts & Facts. 45 (12): 15. (“Clearly these complex cognitive fish abilities don’t fit the evolutionary paradigm…[but] they exemplify the incredible engineering and creativity of our great Creator God.”)
  6. Here semamith is translated as “lizard” based on analysis in Cansdale, G. S. 1976. All the Animals of the Bible Lands. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 24, 28, 199-200, 227, and 267.
  7. Proverbs 30:24-28 (translating chakâmîm mechukkâmîm in verse 24).

Image credit: Copyright © 2016 K. Bohn / San Diego Zoo Global. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holder.

* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. 2017. Clever Creatures: 'Wise from Receiving Wisdom'. Acts & Facts. 46 (3).

The Latest
NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...

ACTS & FACTS
'Doing Business' in Good Times and Bad
No doubt many of you, like me, have been earnestly looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called all believers to be godly “salt”...

APOLOGETICS
Sentinels Are Needed in Perilous Times
Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.1 One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Don't Raindrops Bomb Butterfly Wings?
Okay, I admit most folks have probably not thought to ask this creation question. But a bigger question gets answered when we examine the fantastic...